The Reading Life: 2020

April 21, 2021 | No Comments

2020, what a year. I’m going to go with the old maxim, ‘if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all,’ and simply share my year’s reading. Four months late. My life is running behind time. Only 70 or so books consumed, despite the lockdown (I know, I don’t understand that either, but home-schooling may have had something to do with it), but 64% of them by women. My literary sisters carried me through, it seems. As usual, an asterisk indicates a book I liked very much and would recommend.



  • Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman*
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Heartstone by C.S. Ransom
  • The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison*
  • O Pioneer! by Willa Cather
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan
  • The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  • The Third Reich by Roberto Bolano
  • Love Child by Sheila Kohler
  • Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
  • Actress by Anne Enright*
  • Fellow Travellers by Thomas Mallon
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mandel*
  • The Royal Physician’s Visit by Per Olov Enquist*
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell*
  • Pine by Francine Toon
  • The Quarry Wood by Nan Shepherd
  • The Honorary Spy by John Le Carre*
  • Summer by Ali Smith
  • The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
  • Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler
  • Lamentation by C.S. Ransom
  • The Gowk Storm by Nancy Bryson Morrison
  • Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout*
  • The Long Call by Anne Cleeves
  • The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
  • The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
  • Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart*
  • Middle England by Jonathan Coe
  • A Many Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin
  • Don’t Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford
  • The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham
  • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman


  • Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellare
  • The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes*
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Greely*
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold*
  • How To Fail by Elizabeth Day
  • Upstream by Mary Oliver*
  • The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair
  • White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo
  • My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay
  • Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths by Charlotte Higgins*
  • The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmusson
  • People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
  • Living Better by Alistair Campbell
  • How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
  • Fabulous Monsters by Alberto Manguel
  • Motherwell by Deborah Orr
  • On Shirley Hazzard by Michelle de Kreutzer
  • All That Remains by Dr. Sue Black*
  • Keep Moving by Maggie Smith
  • The Anarchy by William Dalrymple*
  • Three Rings by Daniel Mendelsohn
  • The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang*


  • A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson
  • Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • Arias by Sharon Olds*
  • The Colossus by Sylvia Plath
  • Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart*
  • The Tradition by Jericho Brown*
  • The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
  • Edwin Morgan: Collected Poems
  • Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
  • A Woman Without a Country by Eaven Boland
  • Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson


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